September 11, 2017
A small Wisconsin Rapids airport may get $4 million in state aid for improvements to accommodate increased private jet traffic at a nearby high-end golf resort built by a Republican campaign contributor, as Scott Bauer of the Associated Press reported in a blockbuster story on Friday.
The funding for Alexander Field was approved last week during consideration of the proposed 2017-19 state budget by the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee. The airport is near the Sand Valley Golf Resort, which was built by Chicago businessman Michael Keiser.
Keiser contributed $11,100 to Walker between February 2012 and September 2014, and $50,000 to the state Republican Party between October 2014 and last February.
Walker’s original budget proposal, which did not include funding for the airport, was released about three weeks before Keiser donated $25,000 to the state party in February, Bauer reported. The GOP-controlled legislature plans to approve its version of the proposed state budget this month and send it back to Walker for final approval.
Keiser, who made a fortune in the greeting card industry, has built world-class golf courses in Oregon, Michigan, Florida, Nova Scotia and Australia.
GOP Rep. Scott Krug, of Nekoosa, whose district includes the golf course, said the state transportation department had planned to pay for upgrades to the airport, which is owned by the city of Wisconsin Rapids, in 2021. Krug received a $1,000 campaign contribution from Keiser last September.
Keiser is a huge donor to state and federal Republican candidates and political committees. He donated $100,000 to GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush’s super PAC in 2015. And he has contributed more than $800,000 to the Republican National Committee and other national GOP fundraising committees over the last three decades.